By Tom Wiles | For The Times-Post
…Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared because God took him…Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on the earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God. — Genesis 5:1 – 6:22
Close friends and family are truly a gift from God.
People who knew us and loved us “before.”
Before we did this or that.
Before we grew up a little.
No need for masks. No need for pretending.
We share all the “Do you remember when..??” stories.
We can see what the other person is feeling.
It’s easy to playfully tease and even easier to encourage. We have history in the best sense of that expression. We’ve journeyed. We’ve weathered. Our stories simply cannot be unraveled from each other.
As the record of the first generations of people is introduced to us in Genesis, we find two people, only two, described as having this kind of relationship with God himself – Enoch and Noah.
Enoch was spared physical death and was simply received into heaven by God.
Noah was spared the global judgment of the flood.
Both of these men preached to their contemporaries to no avail (Jude and II Peter).
They were both objects of God’s mercy and witnesses of it.
These two men were the first to be described as walking in close fellowship with God after sin entered the world.
Micah the prophet proclaimed this incredible reality as God’s deepest desire for his people – “Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God.”
It’s not only possible to have this kind of relationship with God, it’s to be the norm, the expectation.
Oh, that even today our hearts would turn so decidedly towards Jesus that our life preaches, “It’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
It will be provided
Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide’). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” — Genesis 22:1-24
With the plan hatched and in progress, I waited with my heart pounding for what felt like forever.
I had sent my sweetheart and her sister on a scavenger hunt for a “fun activity” for them to do together before her sister left town for a few weeks.
It was actually a scavenger hunt to find an engagement ring that I would ask her to consider taking from me.
Each place they went was a place we had been during our courtship.
Same places with a different purpose and message.
Up the mountain went Abraham and Isaac.
The angel stopped him from sacrificing his son.
Same mountain, years later, David would make a sacrifice to stop a plague.
Same mountain, years later Solomon built the first temple for worship.
Same mountain, years later the second temple was built there and later added on to by Herod.
Same mountain, years later Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world. “On the mountain of the Lord, it will be provided.”
God’s question before us today is the same question that was before Abraham that day, “Will you trust me?”
All throughout our days, we choose whether or not to lean on ourselves and our own understanding or God’s.
We scurry around looking to provide for ourselves things like significance, security, purpose, meaning, etc. when the Lord simply asks us to walk with him and he will provide.
Will we trust him to such a degree that we will be still and know that he is God?
Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. ‘There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?’ ‘Tell everyone to sit down,’ Jesus ordered. So all of them – the men alone numbered five thousand – sat down on the grassy slopes. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and passed them out to the people. Afterward, he did the same with the fish. And they all ate until they were full. ‘Now gather the leftovers,’ Jesus told his disciples, ‘so that nothing is wasted.’ There were only five barley loaves to start with, but twelve baskets were filled with the pieces of bread the people did not eat!” — John 6:8-13
Looking at all the other kids trying out for the basketball team, it didn’t take me long to realize that the “A” team was out of the question.
I was only so tall, only so fast, and could jump only so high.
It didn’t help that my shooting and dribbling skills were only average at best.
But there was that “B” team…Well, when all was said and done, I was encouraged to take my “not enough” skill set somewhere else.
John records an amazing story in our verses for the day.
A little boy’s lunch with only enough for him wasn’t going to feed the ever-expanding crowd.
They didn’t match. The lunch didn’t measure up to the mission.
Jesus, undaunted, gave instructions, gave thanks and gave a feast to the whole crowd! When Jesus is around, only is never only.
An “only” worldview is a sad way to live. I’m only this or only that. I can only do…fill in the blank.
This perspective is horribly myopic. It’s a complete self-focus.
Once the focus was transferred from the lunch to Jesus, the crowd needed a nap to sleep off their feast.
Once our focus moves off of ourselves and on to Jesus, we will enter into a brand new world where giants fall and mountains move.
The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. — Proverbs 4:1-27
Few things stop me in my tracks as fast as a beautiful sunrise.
The bursting colors mixing as if directed by a composer of unparalleled talent and skill. The mist and shadows of the night slowly fade as the unrelenting light gains ground with every passing minute.
At times, the brilliant colors crescendo in such a way they fill the lingering clouds making the sky appear to be on fire.
I can’t help but picture King Solomon watching such a sunrise as he put pen to parchment during this part of his book of Proverbs.
In it, he called his son to embrace wisdom, guidance and instruction.
Wisdom, he told him would be his great protector.
Avoid foolishness, the fuel for the heart of the wicked. Life and healing belong to the wise. They fix their eyes straight ahead keeping them on the straight path, the safe path, the way of the righteous.
Solomon’s stark contrast of the wise/foolish and righteous/wicked leaves us in a bit of a quandary.
We tend to do life in the gray of “sometimes.”
We’re not entirely wicked fools nor righteous sages. We bounce around.
This tendency, however, is exactly what Solomon was confronting.
The sunrise metaphor calls us to deep patterns of faithfulness from the start that grows stronger over time.
With desperate humility, we are to fix our eyes on Jesus and shine ever brighter until his return.
Tom Wiles is senior minister of Fall Creek Christian Church in Pendleton. He can be reached at 765-778-3166.